CVMA-ACMV

Capture of Wild Animals for the Pet Trade - Position Statement

February 21, 2018

Position

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) is opposed to the capture of wild animals to be kept or sold as pets.

Summary

  • Exploitation of wildlife is a significant threat to global biodiversity.
  • Significantly high proportions of captured wild animals for the pet trade are injured or die during capture and transportation, thereby presenting welfare and ethical concerns.
  • Capture practices may lead to extensive habitat destruction and indiscriminate injury or death of non-target species.
  • Unregulated global trade in wildlife may contribute to foreign animal diseases, zoonoses, and introduction of invasive species which can have detrimental effects on local endemic populations of native wildlife.

Background

  1. Exploitation of wildlife is a significant threat to global biodiversity (1-7).
  1. Millions of vertebrate and invertebrate species are captured and traded annually, with the vast majority of this trade being unregulated and illegal.
  2. Capture and removal of these animals for the pet trade often occurs in a void of knowledge with respect to each species’ population sustainability, and few initiatives exist to promote sustainability.
  3. Significant numbers of these species are considered at risk of becoming endangered or extinct.

 

  1. Large proportions (up to 80%) of wild animals captured for the pet trade are injured or die during capture and transportation (1-10).
  1. The handling and transport conditions of captured animals often present welfare and ethical concerns.
  2. Animals that survive capture and transport are often unable to acclimate to captivity.
  3. Wild animals manifest a range of behaviours that assist them in adapting to their natural environment. They are often instinctively afraid of humans and other domestic animals, and will not adapt to become good companion animals.
  4. Information on the optimum care, behavioural needs, social structures, and nutrition of many wild animal species is not readily available. This leads to suboptimal care and premature death in captive settings.

 

  1. Capture of marine species may involve extensive habitat destruction and indiscriminate injury or death of many non-target species (e.g., marine tropical fish and corals) (5,11).
  1. Cyanide fishing is recognized as a major factor leading to the destruction of coral reefs. This method involves squirting concentrated sodium cyanide in a focal area to stun fish making it easier to collect them. The high concentration can kill both target and non-target fish and corals.
  2. Residual cyanide is believed to contribute to high delayed mortality of marine fish.

 

  1. Unregulated global trade in wildlife may contribute to introduction of non-native invasive species and foreign animal diseases, with potentially significant economic and public health impacts (3,12-14).
  1. Little disease surveillance is conducted for legally imported non-agricultural animals.
  2. The process of importation and distribution often involves keeping animals at high density and in unnatural groupings of species, providing opportunities for cross-species transmission and amplification of known and unknown pathogens.
  3. The CVMA supports education of consumers about the negative impacts of exotic animal purchase.
  4. The CVMA supports global efforts to combat illegal trade of wildlife through community education and capacity building with local people where these species are harvested, increased local research to better understand the effects of harvest on wild populations, and coordinated international regulations and enforcement.


References

  1. Baker SE, Cain R, Van Kesteren F, Zommers ZA, D'cruze N, Macdonald DW. Rough trade: Animal welfare in the global wildlife trade. BioScience 2013;63:928-938. Available from: https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/63/12/928/2364858 Last accessed August 27, 2017.
  2. Auliya M, Altherr S, Ariano-Sanchez D, et al. Trade in live reptiles, its impact on wild populations, and the role of the European market. Biological Conservation 2016;204:103-119. Elsevier. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320716301987 Last accessed August 27, 2017.
  3. Ashley S, Brown S, Ledford J, et al. Morbidity and mortality of invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals at a major exotic companion animal wholesaler. J Appl Anim Welfare Sci 2014;17:308-321. Available from: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10888705.2014.918511 Last accessed August 27, 2017.
  4. Herrera M, Hennessey B. Quantifying the illegal parrot trade in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, with emphasis on threatened species. Bird Conserv Int 2007;17:295-300. Available from: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/bird-conservation-international/article/quantifying-the-illegal-parrot-trade-in-santa-cruz-de-la-sierra-bolivia-with-emphasis-on-threatened-species/64FF91452AA2F4AAD98BF67F1FF333D2 Last accessed August 27, 2017.
  5. Livengood EJ, Chapman FA. The Ornamental Fish Trade: An Introduction with Perspectives for Responsible Aquarium Fish Ownership. FA124. 2007; Available from: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fa124 Last accessed August 27, 2017
  6. Natusch DJ, Lyons JA. Exploited for pets. The harvest and trade of amphibians and reptiles from Indonesian New Guinea. Biodiversity Conserv 2012;21:2899-2911. Available from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10531-012-0345-8 Last accessed August 27, 2017.
  7. Schlaepfer MA, Hoover G, Dodd CK.  Challenges in evaluating the impact of trade in amphibians and reptiles on wild populations. BioScience 2005;55:256-264. Available from: https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/55/3/256/249719/Challenges-in-Evaluating-the-Impact-of-the-Trade Last accessed August 27, 2017.
  8. Tlusty MF, Rhyne AL, Kaufman L, et al. Opportunities for public aquariums to increase the sustainability of the aquatic animal trade. Zoo Biol 2012;00:1-12. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22549966 Last accessed August 27, 2017.
  9. Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. Keeping of Native or Exotic Wild Animals as Pets. 2016. Available from: http://www.canadianveterinarians.net/documents/keeping-native-or-exotic-wild-animals-as-pets Last accessed August 27, 2017.
  10. Engebretson M. The welfare and suitability of parrots as companion animals: A review. Animal Welfare 2006;15:263-276. Available from: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.522.1843&rep=rep1&type=pdf Last accessed August 27, 2017.
  11. Rubec PJ, Cruz F, Pratt V, Oellers R, McCullough B, Lallo F. Cyanide-free net-caught fish for the marine aquarium trade. Aquarium Scie and Conserv 2001;3:37-51. Available from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1011370106291 Last accessed August 27, 2017.
  12. Rosen GE, Smith KF. Summarizing the evidence on the international trade in illegal wildlife. Ecohealth 2010;7:24-32. Available from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10393-010-0317-y Last accessed August 27, 2017.
  13. Pavlin BI, Schloegel LM, Daszak P. Risk of importing zoonotic diseases through wildlife trade, United States. Emerg Infect Dis 2009;15:1721-1726. Available from: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/15/11/09-0467_article Last accessed August 27, 2017.
  14. Pearl MC. Wildlife trade: Threat to global health. EcoHealth 2004;1:111-112. Available from: https://ecohealth.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/1.2-Editorial.pdf Last accessed August 27, 2017.

(Revised October 2017)